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Paprika’s Guide to Not Being a Total Douchecanoe

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I work two jobs. I have a full course load (fifteen credits). I try to maintain a relatively active social life. I drink a lot of Red Bull.

And, you know, here’s the thing: if I’m going to go to work, I want to know that it’s worth my while. The Writing Center is always worthwhile, of course—the pay is good, the work is fun, and we always have a full dish of candy. Our communal mini-fridge and microwave are nice touches as well.

But waitressing. Well.

The sexual harassment is bad enough. A few days ago, one of the line cooks (who happens to look like a Motley Crue reject) put a paper towel over my mouth and asked if it smelled like chloroform, because, rape jokes! Funny!

Then there’s the fact that I’ve spent the past couple weeks waitressing while injured—yay for knee-wrenching bike accidents! My co-workers have been nice about it, offering to take upstairs tables so I don’t have to climb, but it still blows.

Oh, and then there’s the owner of the restaurant, who wears his ROYAL DICKBAG crown with pride and hates me for reasons unknown. I’d care, but then again…he’s a royal dickbag.

I can deal with this. Well, most of it—the chloroform rag incident is probably getting reported. But people. Pathetic, douchey, dining people. A three dollar tip on a forty dollar ticket is not. fucking. acceptable. You know why? Because waitstaff are legally required to claim ten percent of their sales as tips, and when you tip me less than ten percent, you cost me money. I actually get taxed on money I never received. All because you are a cheap piece of shit.

And lest you think my regular wages cover the various costs of my life, I get paid three dollars an hour.

Yep. Three dollars. So, y’know. Not exactly a living wage.

I’ve heard people bitch about having to tip at all, and while I agree that restaurants should pay waitstaff a living wage, I would also like to point out that, were this to actually happen, restaurants would have to find a way to compensate for that money spent. And how would they do this? Hmm. Well. Golly, I just don’t know…oh wait!

They’d raise the prices on your food, dumbass.  And you’d probably end up paying even more per meal than if you had just left a decent tip in the first place.

Also, sometimes shit goes wrong in the kitchen, and that sucks, and I’m sorry—but it’s not my fault, so don’t let it affect my tip, alright? One of the cooks at my restaurant is paradoxically addicted to both meth and oxycontin, and one night a couple weeks ago he was only the cook working. Luckily we were dead, but even so, he screwed up three steaks and let my order for a bowl of soup sit for six minutes without even looking at the ticket. He didn’t have any other orders up, so I asked him if my soup was coming, and he actually yelled at me.


Of course this person should never work in a kitchen, and I am genuinely sorry that his hands are touching your food, but it’s still not my fault if he screws up. Hell, I’ll gladly yell at him on your behalf, because I really don’t give a shit what he thinks of me, but again—if it doesn’t work, it’s not my fault.

And yes, I realize that you, dear customer, have no way of knowing that our only working cook shoots up in the alley, but really, let’s think about this.

You are one of the only people in the restaurant. My service has been (fakely) cheerful and efficient; your drinks have been promptly refilled, and I have made a point of coming to your table to explain that there is a delay in the kitchen but your food should be out shortly. In the meantime, I offer to bring you some fresh bread so you have something to snack on while you wait.

Who do you think is at fault for your missing entrée?

Me, the friendly server striving to make your dining experience something better than dreadful? Or one of the incompetent asshats in the kitchen?

See, I’m not a very forgiving person. I never have been. If I see someone behave horribly, it takes a lot for me to give them a second chance. But then again, if I don’t know why things are messed up, I try not to assign blame—and I wish more people would do this.

Because it’s true—you just don’t know. And on a stressful night with cracked-out line cooks and six entrees on the 86 list, when our soda gun is malfunctioning and we somehow managed to run out of tequila, an awful tip from a pissed-off table just makes everything worse.

There are so many people involved in the successful running of a restaurant—managers, cooks, waitstaff, dishwashers, bussers, host/hostesses, whoever runs the delivery truck that has our food, the guy who failed at fixing our dryer, the owner who refuses to let us just pick up some damn Cuervo at the liquor store, etc. So when something goes wrong, well, it might be your server’s fault, but it could also be any one of those other people—and unlike your server, they all get paid minimum wage or better.

“Tips” is a stupid word, really—it’s not money you give when the service is exceptional and you want to show your appreciation, it’s money that you should feel absolutely, 100% obligated to give, unless the service was hostile and aggressively rude. Tips are what your server lives on—her hundred dollar biweekly paycheck doesn’t exactly cover rent.

So don’t be a dickbag. Don’t leave a dollar fifty dollar tip on a twenty-five dollar ticket. Don’t start yelling when you run out of ketchup. Just be a decent human being—because I’m not sure how many more of you assholes I can take.


About Paprika

Paprika Davis is a perpetually annoyed twenty-something college student waitress who would rather be a squirrel. The lack of commas in the previous sentence bothers her, but her laziness overrides her desire to improve the writing.

27 responses »

  1. “A three dollar tip on a forty dollar ticket is not. fucking. acceptable. You know why? Because waitstaff are legally required to claim ten percent of their sales as tips, and when you tip me less than ten percent, you cost me money. I actually get taxed on money I never received. All because you are a cheap piece of shit.”

    What about when the service is terrible due to your service and not the kitchen staff?

    If my husband and I get bad service, we have stiffed at times and left bad tips. We also leave 20% and up for wonderful service.

    If we leave no tip or a bad tip, it has ZERO to do with the money, it has to do with how we were treated in our service. Even if you put in the order wrong, do YOU go to your manager and ask them to comp something or do WE have to get a manager? Do YOU say you are sorry or just act like you could care less?

    It matters HOW things are handled when they do happen, whether your fault or not. If we wait over 40 minutes for our food, there’s no excuse you couldn’t have updated us in that amount of time where our food was. In other words, be considerate is all.

    “I actually get taxed on money I never received.”

    How is that possible if you aren’t making that money and the restaurant is? The customers are already paying taxes on the sales, so I am not getting that one?

    So what you are saying is if you make hypothetically $4,000 in a year in tips, you have to claim money you never made? Something doesn’t make sense about that here.

    Why would you reporting money you never made to the IRS and that customers are paying taxes on the sales, so people are already paying those taxes already, which even some even such as us, tip based on the entire bill including taxes even?

    Where did you here about this, because that makes zero sense?

    Let’s just hypothetically say you do have to, WE have ZERO to do with the IRS. That’s YOUR ISSUE, you took the job knowing the circumstances. If you don’t like it, look for another job.

    You servers aren’t concerned about our taxes, why should we be concerned about yours you have to pay?

    This one is a bit selfish to point out since customers have ZERO to do with taxes and the IRS.

    “Who do you think is at fault for your missing entrée?”

    If you bring out everyone else’s but one, it’s YOURS. Don’t bring them out if you can’t bring them all out. What you should do if the kitchen staff forgot one or made the wrong item or made the item wrong, ASK the customers at the table if you they want you to bring out the entrées for the other people or hold off on it.

    Anything that you FORGET in the kitchen to bring out that you don’t have to TOUCH the food to notice the mistake IS your fault. When you bring out entrées, those are served at the same time unless the customer tells you otherwise, so why would you bring out all but one without asking permission first, huh? That’s inconsiderate of you to do such a thing.

    While it’s not your fault the food wasn’t cooked right in your example you gave or forgotten to be made, you can tell the customers what’s going on instead of leaving them in the dark. They may say to bring the entrées out that are done or they might say they want to eat together to just sit it under a heat lamp.

    “So when something goes wrong, well, it might be your server’s fault, but it could also be any one of those other people”

    To be honest with you, most of the time it IS the server’s fault for most mistakes that happen. Now, in the example you gave about the steaks(assuming of course that you put in the order correctly), no that wasn’t your fault or that the soup was the only thing the cook made, but most stuff we go through is DUH mistakes like they forget my condiments or bring out the wrong side dish or forget a side dish or something like that.

    I get more times than any when even just a side of ranch is forgotten about and a lot of times it’s when another server runs the food, because they don’t care since it’s not their tip to check the ticket.

    “I’ve heard people bitch about having to tip at all, and while I agree that restaurants should pay waitstaff a living wage,”

    If that were to happen, that would be the end of good service. Why, you may ask, NO INCENTIVE is what it would be. Things would be like fast food, that your orders would be wrong almost all the time and free refills, you can forget the server to care about that, especially if you ordered water, you’d probably never get a refill. They wouldn’t have any reason to care about if your stuff is right or not without tipping.

    I am ALL for tipping to punish the bad and reward the hard workers. Positive and negative reinforcement, which I find it works a lot of times. It’s all about if you are willing to try your best or not.

  2. Well, how piquant. What in Paprika’s post gave the impression that she is a terrible waitress who deserves to get less than a 10% tip? Or, I’m sorry, since you are so fond of what, if it were being read aloud, would sound like an oddly mixed bag of yelling (IN ALL CAPS), let me rephrase: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU BABBLING ABOUT?

    Paprika does not do any of the shit you’re making up to justify people being total assholes. She does, in fact do, most of what you’re demanding in the event that the kitchen staff jumps the shark. Paprika does her fucking job.

    Oh, and since you have some serious issues conceptualizing this whole money tax thing, let me break it down nice and slow:

    Paprika earns 3 dollars an hour.

    Paprika pays income taxes on her 3 dollars an hour.

    Paprika earns tips.

    Paprika pays income taxes on her tips.

    Since the IRS can’t send out agents to count servers tips on a daily basis, they assume the best about human nature and calculate that servers will be tipped at minimum 10% of their “sales”

    By sales, the IRS means whatever tickets are written by that server.

    If some random asshole chooses to tip Paprika less than 10% Paprika still pays income tax as if she had received a 10% tip.

    In the event that this occurs, Paprika has just paid income tax for money she never received, because you are too big of an asshole to meet the minimum standard of human goodness as imagined by the IRS.

    Bask in the knowledge that even the IRS thinks that YOU ARE A BAG OF ASSHOLE THE SIZE OF THE CHRYSLER BUILDING.

    That it is still legal for her to be paid not just a bit less than minimum wage, but FOUR DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS (was that loud enough for you? Should I bold it? make it a 50 point font?) less, is a fucking travesty. That people who know damn well that she is not earning a living wage choose to punish her for shit that is in no god damned way her fault by not tipping her is an example of how some people are just fuckin’ assholes of the highest magnitude.

  3. Thank you, Pepper. Let the demure courtseying commence.

    And allow me to add my thoughts. (Please feel free, Springs1, to only listen to 8% of them. I wouldn’t want you to stray out of your comfort zone.)

    See, here’s the thing–you have obviously never worked in a restaurant. I know this for two reasons: first, that if you had, you’d have mentioned it in your condescending CAPS CRAZY way, and second, you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about. Pepper did a nice job of explaining the tax issue; now let me address the rest of your big ol’ basket of crazy.

    “Even if you put in the order wrong, do YOU go to your manager and ask them to comp something or do WE have to get a manager? Do YOU say you are sorry or just act like you could care less?”

    At my poorly-run restaurant we often don’t have a manager available, but yes, of course I try to make things right. That said, you’re not getting your food comped just because there was a mistake. I’ll gladly have the cook make you a new entrée, and/or offer you free dessert and drinks, but it’s pretty rare that we’ll comp a meal. This isn’t my choice, it’s the owner’s—I’d comp your food just to get you the hell out if I could—but, uh, yeah, don’t accuse me of shitty service just because you’ve had less than exemplary service in the past. (Although, that said, I’m guessing you didn’t get the service you wanted because 1. you’re the customer from hell, and nothing can you please anyway, and 2. you’re the customer from hell, so nobody gives a flying fuck.)

    “If you bring out everyone else’s but one, it’s YOURS.”

    Um, where in my post did I talk about bringing out part of the food before the rest is ready? Nowhere, that’s where. But since you mention it, that situation presents a bit of a problem for your much-maligned food server. See, here’s the thing: food that sits under the heat lamp too long gets fucking disgusting. It congeals. If it’s a steak, it can overcook. Ideally, I like to offer my tables the option of either bringing out part of the food or waiting until it’s all ready, but sometimes it’s busy, and there’s a crapton of food coming out, and there simply is not space under the heat lamp for those extra plates. In this case, I will apologize, explain the problem, and offer to bring the foodless customer some bread or a salad or something while they wait (and no, I don’t charge them for it).

    “Anything that you FORGET in the kitchen to bring out that you don’t have to TOUCH the food to notice the mistake IS your fault.”

    This sentence…doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I guess you’re talking about obviously incorrect orders mistakenly brought to a table. Which, okay, your server probably should have noticed that, but sometimes it gets absolutely batshit crazy in the kitchen and you just don’t notice. SHIT HAPPENS, lady. It just does. If that shit happens when I’m working, I apologize profusely and have the problem corrected, but it doesn’t exactly keep me awake at night.

    “To be honest with you, most of the time it IS the server’s fault for most mistakes that happen.”

    No, actually, it isn’t. The point of my entire post…you missed it.

    “This one is a bit selfish to point out since customers have ZERO to do with taxes and the IRS.”

    Oh yes. It’s selfish to want a living fucking wage. It is not, however, remotely selfish to leave a shitty tip due to a mistake. Nope, not selfish at all. There’s nothing wrong with treating servers like foodbots who should never be allowed to screw up ever—especially when you don’t even know for sure that it’s their fault.

    “If that were to happen, that would be the end of good service. Why, you may ask, NO INCENTIVE is what it would be.”

    Uh-huh. Listen, lady—not having to listen to people like you bitch and moan is incentive enough. But actually, I think that restaurants should have to pay a living wage, AND customers should tip if the service is above average. And you know why? Because waiting tables is hard fucking work. It hurts the body—most of my co-workers have knee problems—it’s stressful, and half the time you get treated like you’re less than human. And we’re not less than human. We’re here to serve you, yes, and most of really try to do our jobs well, but sometimes we fuck up. Sometimes the kitchen fucks up. Sometimes the manager fucks up, or the guy who did the ordering, or hey, sometimes a co-worker called in sick and we’re understaffed. Waiting tables, as Pepper pointed out, offers no benefits whatsoever—no health insurance, no paid vacation (in fact, you’re often stuck working holidays), no paid sick days (and unpaid sick days are strongly discouraged). If I wreck my bike and twist the shit out of knees and calves, I still have to work. I don’t have time to heal—instead, I have to carry bigass trays and walk up and down stairs on swollen, scraped up legs. That’s not exaggeration, either—I’ve actually done this. And at the end of the night I collapsed into the bathtub and cried from the pain.

    You say I should just get another job. Well, yes, that would be ideal. But you know, it’s a little difficult to find a job that’s willing to work around my school and Writing Center schedules, so until that job materializes I’m stuck running food to ungrateful assholes like you.

    One of the points I was trying to make in this post is that more people should adopt the philosophy of YOU DON’T KNOW FOR SURE, NOW, DO YOU? Because you don’t know for sure that it was the server who entered your order wrong, that your drinks took forever because the server was lazy, that your food wasn’t comped because your server doesn’t care. You don’t know anything at all.

    But I will tell you this: if I were your server, I wouldn’t care about you a bit. I have a full life outside of work, and you mean as little to me as I do to you. (Probably less, in fact.) I’d give you fine service, but I wouldn’t try to impress you, because I’d know that I could never win. Some servers are terrible, I’ll grant you, but if you consistently get sub-par service, then maybe it’s time to realize that the problem is you. You have made your own shitty dining experiences—and you fucking deserve every minute of it.

    • High-Five from a former to current waitress!

      In case Springs1 feels the need to reply, I wouldn’t bother if I were you. You’ll find that Paprika and I run this place like a beneficent dicatrixship. Which means that, for the benefit of our other readers, I will gut your comment like a fucking deer and post it reading [something rude and amusing] instead.

  4. [Hi! I’m springs1! I am a SUPER-PRIVILEGED American asshat, who thinks that people who wait on tables are just fucking stupid and fucking lazy, because like, I have never had to wait tables but I KNOW HOW THINGS SHOULD BE DONE AS A CUSTOMER! This has nothing to do with class, nope nuh uh. I am not even CLOSE to self aware enough to realize that I actually have a profound fear of poor people rising up and taking away my ability to order them around for my amusement. I am also obsessed with my dining experience to a bizarre, perhaps clinical degree and should perhaps not come swanning into the bitchiest castle on the internet and expect to be listened to. Maybe. I probably don’t think that clearly. My privilege, it is like a soft swaddling fog that prevents me from seeing service workers as people. I think they are just LAZY LAZY LAZY even though I’ve never done their job. I am also pretty certain that I could fly a plane, on account of having gone on lots of flights in my day]

    • You know I didn’t write that you asshole!!


      • Not in so many words, but I think Pepper got the gist of what we you saying–namely “I’m a psychotic bitch with no serving experience whatsoever who thinks my obsession with crispy bacon makes me qualified to insult strangers on the internet, including those who are forced to work while injured and endure disgusting sexual harassment on the job.”

        YOU’RE an asshole, lady. Own it.

  5. [ I think servers are stupid and lazy, and also because they are icky and poor never go out to eat and thus know less than I do about how food should be served]

  6. [blah yadda yadda I’m so privileged that is fucking hurts]

  7. [totally irrelevant bullshit wherein I reveal myself to be a middle class asshole hell customer and also a person who did not believe pepper would edit my comment to read “dog butt cheese doodle!” but there you go!]

  8. [wherein I detail my excruciating privilege by talkin’ bout how I’ve eaten out multiple times every weekend for the last 10 years! I think poor people who have to work menial jobs are lazy lazy lazy and stupid. But especially lazy.]

  9. [Pictures of Bacon. Because I have so much fucking privilege that I can devote my life to swanning onto someone elses blog, arguing with them about their job, insisting that they did shit they didn’t do, make sweeping class generalizations, bizarre assertion, revelations of the breadth and depth of my asshattery, and then at last, spent, leave links for pictures of bacon, so that we may know the difference between crispy and not crispy. MY LIFE IS SO FUCKING SWEET HA HA HA POOR PPL SUCK]

  10. [Paprika would also like to point out that this troll is a smug entitled bitch from hell who actually believes that servers should pay for her fucking drinks because “servers have money too,” even though both Pepper and Paprika have pointed out numerous times that, no, they fucking don’t. Paprika would therefore like to warn the general public that Springs1 is officially The Worst Customer In the World, a teabag bursting with the flavors of unbridled narcissism, borderline incoherence, and a beyond inflated sense of her own self-worth, steeped in the tepid water of undeserved privilege and served with a splash of mixed constructions.]

  11. You are just MAD, because I PROVED YOU THE FUCK WRONG, ASSHOLE!!

    [Translation: Arrrgh Rawr, How dare you people follow through and do exactly what I was warned you would do, now I will flail about and insist that I won in the face of all reason because I am that wrapped up in my privileged bullshit.]

    • Lady, she warned your sorry privileged ass. Comment again and we’ll gut your comments.

      That threat still stands, so I’d be careful.

  12. [ I am continuing to irrationally demand that a total stranger from the internet who I have never, and will never meet, comps my beverage for imaginary bad service she has imaginarily given me, with her own money. I just called said total stranger a selfish fucking asshole for not using her own money to do this. Even though I am not, nor have I ever been a customer of Paprika’s, I’m not insisting that she somehow use her magical waitress powers to do this. Oh, and An Intense Brawl Gif - An Intense Brawl
    see more Gifs ]

  13. O. M. G.

    That was amazing.

    How is it so difficult to figure out when your server is actually lazy/doesn’t care (we all know this does indeed happen) and when things are just a mess? Plus, as someone who has worked in the restaurant biz (hostess – good god I could never serve. I’d be the waitress springs1 thinks everyone is), I am pickin up what yer puttin down.

    Look. Bottom line? People think they know so fucking much about things they’ve never experienced AND they have no ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes.

    Shut the fuck up and behave like a human being.

    • Ha Ha, that is crazy talk Nikki! You and your “act like a human being.” Clearly, visiting the Europeland has made you completely European. ;P

      • OMG! You’re right! Europe is totally trying to rub off on me! Yikes! Stick fingers in ears and think about Bush! (HA HA HA HA – that’s really funny actually… mind in gutter…) GAWD effing communists!!

  14. But springs1 DOES know! Because like, she’s a regular customer at restaurants and stuff! And the customer? Always right. I, however, am just a pathetic, uncaring, and essentially defective foodbot who is too stupid to understand how bacon works. Also, I should buy her dessert.

    • Oh Paprika. At least you came around. I’m glad to see that Springs1 finally talked some sense into you.

      (Seriously though… bitter much? Stay in and cook, lady. Do us all a favor.)

  15. Three dollars/hours is disgraceful! Yes, I am European but still…bloody hell! Everyone knows that you leave at least 10% tips…even in “socialist” Europe (was actually told by someone that all of Europe is socialist as we have more than two weeks holidays in all countries… but I digress). I have many friends that have worked in the restaurant business and what amazes me is the amount of harassment that seems to be almost daily. I did bar work as a student and if anyone would have tried that sexual harassment shit they would have gotten a pint in their lap. Needless to say I was never asked to work in the restaurant part of the bar…

    Loved the slicing and dicing in the comments section by the way. Was truly enjoyable!

    • Thanks! And yeah, the restaurant business is an awful, awful monstrosity that massively abuses its workers. Luckily, this particular sexual harrasser quit…interestingly, after I talked to my boss about his failure to act like a decent human being. Heh. +1 to Paprika.


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